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Friday, September 22, 2006

Lifting Your Hands

© Staci Stallings

It's sad how difficult we make being a Christian. We do it to ourselves and to each other by putting rules and conditions on ourselves once we're saved. Before we're saved, we're told, "You can't do it. Jesus is your salvation."

After we're saved, we're told, "Okay, here's the rules. You can do this. You can't do that. Don't even think about doing that." And I'm not even talking about the big rules like killing someone or being envious of their position. I'm talking about pickiness that goes way beyond that.

For example, in my line of work--Christian romance writing, there are "rules," some call them "standards." They go like this:

You can't have anyone in your story drink alcohol because some of our readers don't believe in drinking.

You can't have anyone in your story dance. Ditto number one.

No showers.

Do not show the character in bed even alone. And the character may never be described as being in their pajamas-even if they are alone because that is suggestive.

Now, I'm sure they have their reasons for all these rules, but for me, rules are not where it's at. We spent two thousand years with the Old Testament going around and around and around that mountain to come to the conclusion that rules don't work! We can't do it. Only God can.

Personally, I think we are far more like a baby who is trying to walk than a god who can come up with enough rules to keep us in line. Further, I think we can learn a lot about how God loves us by watching a good parent with a baby.

A child who is learning to walk first stands, and when he falls, a good parent does not huff in disgust at the child's "failure." A good parent does not condemn the child, call him worthless and give up on him. No. A good parent immediately picks the child up, praises him, loves him, and encourages him to try again.

Now does the parent pretty much know the child will fall again? Sure. If you've ever been there when a child takes his first steps, you know they are going to fall. Does that deter the good parent from praising and applauding each and every small step the child takes? No. Because they know it's their praise that will encourage the child to take another.

And so it is with our Heavenly Father. He is ecstatic when we take a step-even a faltering one-toward Him. From my own experience with my kids, it wouldn't surprise me if God called all the angels in to watch when we're taking steps toward Him. "Oh, look! Johnny took another step toward real understanding of Me, toward really learning to be loving! Oh, yeah, Johnny!" And, I'm equally sure that the angels for love of the child's Father if nothing else get excited as well.

Does God know we will fall again? Sure. Does that deter Him from getting excited about each positive step we take? No. He, like any good parent, is right there cheering us on, encouraging, praising, smiling at the steps we are taking.

I think the most applause comes when we take not worldly accomplishment steps, but Heavenly accomplishment steps. When we learn to have a little more faith, when we learn to be a little more loving, when we learn to be a little more compassionate and have mercy. I just know God is up there, tears in His eyes for how proud He is of us. I know because I've sat on the floor as my children took their first steps toward me, and there is simply no other reaction than tears of joy.

In fact, we would all be much better off if we spent our time as little children, our arms up-reaching to God to let Him pick us rather up than concocting rules to get ourselves "good enough" to spend eternity with Him. The truth is, we are babes in need of a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He is willing to be patient when we fall because He knows (better than we do) that falling is part of the learning process.

It would be wise for us all to remember that about each other as well. Then we might hear the applause of Heaven because we have taken another small step toward becoming the loving child of God He meant us to be.

Don’t miss out! Read the first three chapters of Staci’s newest releases at: You’ll feel better for the experience!

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Kari Z. Murphy said...

"It's sad how difficult we make being a Christian."

I have been ruminating on this all week. Thank you for the truth you present here, that we need to spend our time with arms reaching up. That's an image I will carry with me today!

In Christ alone,

blog team,

Heather said...

Wow, thank you. This is something I think often (I am a rule bender) but hae never articulated on my blog. Now I don't have to, you said it exactly. In fact, its why I expect never to be published, because I play by God's rules only and don't go in for added doctrine. I grew up under it and have cast it off.

Yes, I know not to be a stumbling block for others and am careful not to, but I do struggle with my urge to rebel against it constantly.

Jada's Gigi said...

amen to this post! Grace, grace grace!! Why can't we get it? Its the same grace after we are saved as before...and we need it every bit as much! Without Him I truly can do nothing!

Tammy said...

Wonderful thoughts...and I have to agree!

Mary said...

Staci, great post. I'm curious, are all these rules really out there? No PJ's even? Yikes, that really rules one of my books out. HOw on earth are we to portray "real" people who don't have their act together yet? Or husbands and wives who have problems but still live together?
What publishers go by these rules? Are these all CBA guidelines? If so, then how do Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury get away with it?

Gina said...

Mary, they get away with it because they are Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury and they bring in the sales. The rest of us will just have to follow the rules!:)

Mary said...

Where do I find "the rules"? :O) Thanks in advance!